Praying for Preston: Family and friends rally around couple whose son was injured in lawnmower accident
By Susan Shinn
CHARLOTTE ó Like any mom, Cinamon Loyd loves to watch her son sleep.
Children are so sweet and at peace when they are sleeping.
But Preston, 4 1/2, has been asleep for the better part of a month. He was placed in a medically induced coma by doctors at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte following a horrific lawnmower accident on April 22.
Cinamon calls Preston her “Little Tornado,” and the tyke evidently burst into the yard while his granddaddy was mowing. A.K. Loyd backed over the boy. The injuries resulted in the loss of Preston’s stomach, left kidney and several ribs, spleen, as well as deprivation of oxygen to his brain, damage to a lung and a wound to his left elbow.
But the determination and exuberance that young children possess has served Preston well during what will be a long recovery period.
Cinamon has not returned to the family’s home in Mooresville. Her husband, Ashton, has gone back and forth, helping to care for the couple’s older child, daughter Taylor, 7, who’s just finishing up second grade. Ashton’s parents, Pat and A.K., are staying with Taylor until the family is reunited.Steve Craig and Doug Hollidge of Pinnacle Properties have provided a condo for the couple to have a “home base” that’s only 5 minutes from the hospital. Ashton and Cinamon were at a grand-opening party for the condos when Preston was hurt.
Friends and family members have also been helping out with Taylor. Cinamon’s parents, Gary and Peggy Hinshaw, live in Randleman, and try to visit on Wednesday and Sunday. Wayne and Sammie Hinshaw, her aunt and uncle, live in Salisbury. One of Ashton’s uncles, the late Grady Loyd, worked at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College for a number of years. Their best friends Martin and Paige McCann have been a constant source of strength. Neighbor Gene Granelle was first on the scene, wrapping Preston in a blanket and comforting A.K.
Cinamon, 38, was a cross-country runner in high school. She knows Preston’s recovery is much like a long-distance race.
“You have to keep enduring,” says Cinamon, a former beauty queen who’s still a stunning blonde.
Cinamon perhaps is willing to accept this a little better than Ashton, 39, a goal-oriented kind of person who expects quick results. He’s a vice president of sales with Nationwide/Griffin Insurance in Mooresville.
Cinamon says that he’s the type of man to say, “There’s a problem, let’s fix it.”
“The grace she has had throughout this has been unbelievable,” Ashton says. “It is very difficult for my personality type. I pray for perseverance, and I pray for increased faith.”
Ashton and Cinamon have requested myriad prayers for Preston on the boy’s Caring Bridge Web site. The address is www.caringbridge.org/visit/prestonloyd.
You must register to access the site.
Caring Bridge is a free site through which families of critically ill children can communicate with family and friends.
“We pray very specifically depending on what the doctors say each day,” Cinamon says. “I think people have enjoyed being able to know what they’re praying for.”
To date, the Web site has logged nearly 430,000 visitors.
“We have messages from other states and other countries,” Cinamon says, and the good wishes and prayers have sustained them. “It’s amazing how many lives Preston has touched.”
The night of the accident was the worst, Cinamon says ó and the most critical.
Doctors held little hope for Preston.
Cinamon and Ashton did not accept that, and so they began to pray.
The time Preston spent in ICU was a roller-coaster, his mom says.
But his daily progress continues, albeit slowly.
“It’s still hard even at this stage to watch the slow progress,” Cinamon says.
Preston still sleeps a great deal of the time. Doctors want him to rest so that his small body may continue to heal.
His room on the eighth floor is filled with books and balloons and cards and posters from well-wishers. Stuffed animals line the shelves and all the kid-friendly touches make it as homey as possible.
He’s begun to respond to those around him. He knows his name, he knows his sister’s name, he knows his parents.
When grandmother Pat leaves after coming to trim his hair, she tells him, “I love you.”
“I love you,” he says.
He asks for some water several times while nurses are working with him, then falls back asleep.
Preston is a preschooler at Peninsula Baptist Church in Mooresville. Two posters from church hang on the wall.
“Our hands are praying for you,” the poster reads, surrounded by 4-year-olds’ hand prints.
His teachers came on Monday, along with his good friend Miller. He recognized his teacher, Sue Kos, and talked with Miller about racing to the playground.
“I’m faster than Miller,” Preston pipes up at one point.
Cinamon is not sure Preston knows where he is, other than the fact that he’s not home.
“I want to go to my home,” he told her recently.
He knows he has boo-boos, and that the doctors and nurses are working to fix him.
Within a year, he’ll undergo surgery to attach his esophagus directly to his intestines. For now, he’s being nourished by a feeding tube.
Amazingly, Cinamon says, he won’t have any dietary restrictions. He’ll just have to take small bites and eat slowly.
Doctors haven’t yet determined the extent of his brain injury, which is similar to a stroke.
“The neurologist told us he could leave the hospital as the same little boy,” Cinamon says, and that is their prayer.
“We are praying and we are claiming his perfect healing,” Ashton says.
They’ve been encouraged by the fact that Preston seems to remember anything they ask him about.
He’ll have an additional surgery to repair the wound on his back, then return to progressive care before going back to physical therapy.
Cinamon says that doctors have given them no timetable for Preston’s release, but she expects they’ll be in the hospital several more weeks on the rehabilitation floor.
She’s content to be by her son’s side.
“You have to adjust your life at a moment’s notice,” she says, “but you do.”Before the accident, Cinamon was a typical stay-at-home mom, ferrying Preston to school and both the children to voice lessons. Ashton, too, started singing at age 4. The family is active at church, and Cinamon volunteered once a week at her daughter’s school, Lake Norman Elementary. She’s been a Girl Scout leader for the past three years.
“As a teacher, she’s the kind of parent you’d like to have,” says her aunt Sammie, a retired educator.
“We had our normal routine,” Cinamon says, not wistfully. “I dropped everything. I’m lucky we have family to support our daughter each day so I can be with him.”
Just this past week, Ashton was able to return to the office.
“I just want everybody who reads this to know that we appreciate the brilliance of medicine,” he says. “The power of prayer and the power of God is the reason Preston is alive.”
The family doesn’t yet know what Preston’s total medical expenses will be, but Ashton’s friends have set up the Preston Loyd Foundation to assist with any of those expenses (www.prestonloyd.com).
“If we have money left over after our journey,” Cinamon says, “we hope we can help other families.”
For now, Cinamon and her family are still on that journey.
“For me, every tube, every IV and every machine is here to help him,” she says.
“Rest is what he needs. I’ve been OK to watch him sleep, because he’s healing.”